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Councillor lets rip at failure to tackle anti-social behaviour ‘hot-spot’ nightmare

Dismay and anger as DfI accused of 'dereliction of duty'

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Failure to provide funding to tackle an anti-social behaviour ‘hot-spot’ in Co Armagh has been branded a “dereliction of duty” on the part of the Department of Infrastructure.

DUP Councillor Daryn Causby did not hold back when central government said it did not have the money to commit to capital schemes in the Northway bridge and Foundry Street areas of Portadown.

Both are known locations which have been subject to ongoing anti-social behaviour by young people congregating and drinking over the years.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council wrote to the Department asking that something be done to help alleviate the situation.

But when the response came back to the community services committee from DfI there was a palpable anger in the chamber.

The council’s head of community development said the Department had indicated it was unable to complete work “due to budget restraints” but they were “amenable to their framework and expertise being utilised in conjunction with council”.

There was disbelief and disappointment from Daryn Causby, as the councillor hit out.

He said that while he understood budgets were tight, it was “a dereliction of duty by DfI not to fund the much needed capital works”.

Councillor Causby said that the land at the Northway bridge and Foundry Street was owned by the Department and said it was “their responsibility to finance and undertake the work”.

He pointed out that council already helped DfI with grass cutting.

Sinn Fein Councillor Maire Cairns said he had raised some very “valid points”.

She accused “government bodies with specific responsibilities” of failing to fund capital works schemes, “many of which involved improving the safety of children”.

Councillor Cairns said there was the expectation that council should burden the cost adding that “a more helpful approach” from DfI would be welcome.

It was agreed – on the proposal of Councillor Causby – to write another letter to DfI acknowledging receipt of their correspondence.

And once again the council will be asking for the money to be found to get the job done.

While council will highlight in the letter that it welcomes the use of DfI systems and advice, Department will be told that “financial resources are required to be put in place” to help find a resolution to the behaviour nightmare once and for all.

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